Woman to Woman Talk: Joy Black

Where are you from, and what was your life like as a little girl? — Were you always into music or the arts?

I’m from Atlanta, Ga. As a little girl, I was very shy. I really didn’t know how to make friends. I was always quiet and to myself in public areas, but around family I was always playful and was more of myself. When I was younger my mother had me take piano lessons for a few months, I really didn’t like it much. When I was in elementary school, I was always loved singing with the school’s chorus.

When did life get tough for you in school, as far as bullying?

When did it start?

Well, I was home=schooled until the 2nd grade. I remember it being tough from the first day of school, and always had a hard time making friends. From a young age all I remember was getting pushed around and picked on by the other kids. Not really understanding why I wasn’t good enough to play with the rest of the kids. I also didn’t understand the value of wearing named brand clothing, so I got picked on for not wearing what everyone else thought was cool to wear. I had friends every now and then, but it didn’t last long. One friend would turn into two, two friends would turn into three. Whenever I had a group of friends to hang out with, they all turned against me as if I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with them. As I continued to grow, the problem continued. After a while, I started believing that I was just a waste of space and had no place in this world.

Did you know what “bullying” was at that time?

Was cyber bullying also a factor?

I did understand what bullying was. Even though schools did teach us that bullying is wrong, I believed it to be normal for me since it happened to me at a young age. It was very traumatizing for me as my brain was developing and growing trying to figure out how the world works. I knew it was wrong deep down inside because of how depressed and unworthy other kids and even teachers would make me feel. I had a hard time in certain classes that I had the most verbal bullies in, I could never concentrate and ended up failing most of my classes. Due to me failing, I would get mistreated by teachers as well. They would announce my grades in front of everyone to embarrass me and everyone would pick on me and make me feel dumb. So I had more of an impact of me not wanting to learn and not want to go to school. Sometimes when I couldn’t handle the bullying in class, I would have an anxiety attack and run out of the school into the woods to cry.

Was bullying something you talked about to your parents once you began to experience it?

My parents did know about it, and did step in whenever it became a serious physical problem. They would make my grades their number one priority so I could be able to pass onto the next grade. Whenever I did take matters into my own hands and report a student they would be forced to stop, but another student would become a bully. It seemed like a never ending issue, so I gave up and lost hope.

What was your support system like in school and at home? – Did you have any trusted friends at school that helped you through?

I rarely had support until it became a serious physical issue. I didn’t have many friends growing up, but sometimes random people did stand up for me. I am so grateful to those that did, because it helped me realize that I shouldn’t have been treated that way.

Tell us about your dream that began your journey with the Violin!

I had the dream in 8th grade when I almost gave up on life and felt really depressed and had suicidal thoughts. In my dream, I was on stage playing the violin in front on thousands of people. I woke up and felt inspired to try something new. The dream kept me motivated to keep moving forward, so I began taking lessons during my freshman year of high school.

Once you began taking lessons, how did it make you feel to begin living out your dream? Why Hip-Hop Violin over any other genre?

I loved learning to play the violin. It served as a distraction for me even though the bullying continued. Sometimes after a bad day of school, instead of doing my homework I would play my violin for hours crying, and taking out my frustrations with the music. Hip-Hop is one of my favorite genres to play because I love Hip-Hop music. I’m classically trained so I love to combine a classical style of playing with not only Hip-Hop, but all any genre such as R&B, Pop, Rock, you name it and I’ll play it.

What have been 3 of your proudest moments as a Violinist?

My top 3 proudest moments would be when I had the opportunity to play for the New England Patriots during Super Bowl week here in Atlanta. Another proud moment was when I was hired by Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va to play for thousands of people a week being a solo featured violinist for a show called OktoberZest. Another big moment isn’t an accomplishment, but I would say that I love to inspire others and especially kids to play violin. Sometimes people message me on social media and tell me “I showed my daughter some of your videos and she wants to learn to play the violin now.” When people tell me that it gives me so much motivation to keep moving forward to inspire as many people that I can.

What are some challenges you’ve faced being a young strings player in general? — and then further as a young BLACK strings player?

I really haven’t faced any problems being a black violinist that I know of. Sometimes I do feel like I’m being underestimated until I begin to play. Sometimes after shows people ask me “Is that really you playing?” As if I’m violin syncing, like lip syncing. It’s kind of offensive and a compliment because I want to be able to be so good that it would be unbelievable, but I do want to be believable at the same time, because I worked hard to build the skills that I today.

Biggest Lesson you’ve learned along your journey?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to love myself. As an entertainer it’s so easy to get caught up in trying to please an audience. It’s helped me to understand that everyone isn’t meant to like your music or style and that’s fine. I always focus on the positive feedback, but if I do get negative feedback I just take it as constructive criticism, and I learn to improve myself from that instead of feeling bad.

Do you have any advice for other Black Girls experiencing Bullying?

Everyone’s situation and experience is different with bullying, so a way that’s helped me may or may not help another. Some people are more sensitive that others, but I was super sensitive and self conscious about my looks. Not being thick enough, having natural hair, not having expensive clothes, and just feeling like I’m a weird person. What’s helped me along my journey was music of course. A good tip would be to find something that you love and put all of your negative energy towards. Positive affirmations go a long way as well. You are only who you say and believe you are and not what others assume you to be. Most importantly, never be afraid to speak up and stand up for yourself, always tell an adult that you can trust. If you don’t have anyone that can help, there are so many organizations and charities fighting everyday that would love to help no matter how bad the situation is.

Do you have any advice for those looking to become Professional musicians?

The best advice I can give is to spend as much time as you can to practice, because practice makes perfect. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, so only do it if you truly love it.

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years or so?

I would like to see myself having my own shows all over the world. Touring, traveling, speaking, and inspiring the world to become the greatest version of themselves. I have been bullied my entire school life and will not let those years go to waste. It’s impossible to stop people from mistreating others, but it is possible to give the confidence to those that need it to stand up for themselves. Giving confidence and motivation to those that need it will be something I’ll do for the rest of my life.

Photography by: Stella B of Stella B Visuals

Setting: Moods Music